Summer Series: Royal Pains

USA‘s newest in-house series is Royal Pains.

Officially: Hank (Mark Feuerstein) is a rising star in the New York City medical community, until he loses everything fighting for the life of a patient. With his career stalled and his personal life in shambles, Hank is in need of a new beginning. That’s where his younger brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo) steps in. Fed up with Hank’s personal pity-party, he convinces Hank to join him on a last-minute trip to the Hamptons for Memorial Day weekend. When the brothers crash a party at the home of a Hamptons billionaire and a guest falls critically ill, Hank saves the day. His dramatic medical rescue draws attention from the crowd, and soon Hank’s phone starts ringing off the hook with patients demanding house calls.

Inadvertently, Hank has become the hot new “concierge doctor” in town.

Though Hank is initially reluctant to embrace this new career, with encouragement from Evan and an ambitious young woman who volunteers to be his physician assistant he decides to stay in town for the summer. Once again solving medical crises and helping those in need, Hank is back to doing what he does best. And now he’s reinvented himself as the Hamptons’ hottest new doctor-in-demand.

Other supporting characters are Reshma Shetty as Divya Katdare and Jill Flint as Jill Casey. These two women superficially may seem similar given they both work in the medical profession and both seemingly find the lifestyle of the rich and indolent less than admirable and seek something more fulfilling. Yet, while Divya was for me a fun character to get to know and I looked forward to her scenes in each episode, I found Jill to be annoying and shallow and most of her scenes made me cringe or just turn the channel. As a love interest, zip. Nada. Divya’s struggle with her parents and their plans for her life made for far more compelling viewing.

Each week some medical emergency, usually exotic and rare, (much like the cases that continually find their way to House’s institution of medicinal practice) pops up in Hank’s sphere of influence and he saves the day, usually with the help of his small group of companions, notably Divya, but Evan and Jill occasionally are instrumental in solving what the mystery illness is. Evan and Jill are also the main source of Hank’s other problems. Evan, as Hank’s wilder younger brother, has his share of foibles, many of which inevitably somehow involve Hank. Afterall, it was one of Evan’s party-crashing escapades that landed Hank in the Hamptons. And Jill and Hank’s attraction to her… well, that was simply painful to watch. My favorite episodes were those involving Tucker and his girlfriend. They were quite interesting, as they were rich but also had some character to them. I was glad when they brought them back for two more episodes and am really hoping to see them again in season two. As the story stood at the finale, Jill had broken up, in a sorta, kinda, not really sure fashion with Hank, Divya had failed to break off her arranged marriage minutes before the engagement ceremony, Evan had lost all Hank’s money in a scam and we discover that the scammer that just took their money is none other than Hank and Evan’s father! So, there’s all that to address when things come back and, of course, Evan is on the outs with Hank, who said he could not trust him, so it will be interesting to see where everything goes from this point.

Overall, this first season did not wow me, but neither did the first season of In Plain Sight. Admittedly, the characters in most of USA’s series are very unique, as shown by their channel’s tagline “Characters Welcome.” And this particular type of show has done very well: Monk, Psych, Burn Notice and In Plain Sight. All of these shows have either charismatic or very forceful, memorable leads like Adrian Monk, Shawn Spencer, Michael Weston, and Mary Shannon, with superb supporting casts. And while Royal Pains remains the weakest of the group for me, it is still light, breezy fair for the summer and worth a try. It returns for a second season in 2010.

Give ‘Royal Pains’ A Try @ Starpulse.comĀ  This was a good review of the pilot.